24 November 2008

Today's Blue Milk Run

Often overlooked, the crew chiefs play a valuable role in flying the UH-60 Black Hawk and the CH-47 Chinook. The crew chiefs have a multitude of tasks to perform in the aircraft: they man the door guns, load equipment and troops, carry patients, perform major maintenance, and most importantly, provide an extra set of eyes for pilots of aircraft designed to land on the sides of mountains.

So with such a huge role to play, sometimes the crew chiefs need a little bit of training too. The blue milk run of the day (yes, that is a nod to the Star Wars: X-Wing Rogue Squadron books) was to give the crew chiefs a little bit of training on a variety of tasks, to include hand and arm signals for directing an aircraft.

The crew chiefs are trained by a Flight Instructor, who is generally a senior crew chief who has logged hundreds of hours in the aircraft. Today we worked on hand and arm signals for guiding a helicopter into a landing spot. The Flight Instructor and one of the crew chiefs hopped out and reviewed the signals. I watched from afar.

I'm a little rusty on my hand and arm signals. Let's zoom in and see if we can't study the following signal:

Hmmm, either "Move Back" or "What the hell is he doing this time?" To be honest, either would probably be correct.

All in all, a worthwhile mission. Training crew chiefs is important; after all, no crew chief ever crashed an aircraft, although plenty of crew chiefs have saved them.

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